Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

I haven't had time to enter anything for the last month because I have been rehearsing and then performing my role of Sherlock Holmes in the West Allis Players' production of "The Hound of the Baskervilles," which ended last weekend. This show has been a very interesting experience in a number of ways, notably in seeing how fast a cast with widely varying levels of experience can put together a show. The original script was adapted for Samuel French by one Tim Kelly, evidently a house writer specializing in adapting classics for the stage, since his credits include "Frankenstein," "Dracula," "The Woman in White," "Varney the Vampyre," and a lot of others that charitably sound like "mellerdramas." Our director had evidently not picked the script and wasn't very fond of it. (Plays for community theatre get picked two ways, usually: sometimes the playreading committee chooses the show and finds a volunteer to direct it; other times a director comes forward with a show they want to do and convinces the board to take it on.) Usually, the rehersal time for a stright play runs about five weeks. However, we were about one and a half weeks into rehersal before we settled upon a final revised script, which borrowed heavily from both the French version and Doyle's orginal, with some totally new interjections. Thus we ended up with a very "free" adaptation and about three and a half weeks to pull it together.

The end result didn't get good marks script-wise from the Holmes purists in the audience, but it was good fun as a show, and I've had better roles, but seldom as much fun in one. Besides getting to do the classic Holmes deduction bits, I also got to skulk around in disguise, with an on-stage unmasking scene; lurk through the secret door; shoot the hound; and be shot in turn by the villainess.

If you don't recall secret doors, Holmes getting shot, or a villainess in Doyle, I congratulate you on your knowlege of Sherlockiana. On the other hand, we ended up with a lively although textually uneven show that I still think captured the spirit of the orginal.

The cast was very widely varying in experience. Our director, Steve Parr, is professional with a lot of acting and directing credits. Then there was myself, Bob Stahley (Watson) and Rick Anderson (Barrymore, the butler) who are veteran actors, followed by varying ranges of experience down to the young men, Kyle Warras as Sir Henry Baskerville and Eric Caves as Jack Stapleton, who were essentially doing first major roles. Everyone did a good job, although with the short run-up, the show was never as tight as might have been. On the other hand, the audience doesn't know the script and the bobbles weren't too obvious.

I actually got good reviews as Holmes. Of course everyone knows I am neither tall nor thin, but I got some boots that added an inch of height and a slimming black suit, which along with decent makeup (my mustache was temporarily sacrificed for the muse) allowed me to project Holmes creditably. Several people said I had the Holmes mannerisms down perfectly. Bob Stahley was an excellent Watson and a real mainstay to me and the show in general. Actually, it's a toss-up who has the more important role to the script, since Watson is on stage for several scenes while Holmes is offstage supposedly hunting around Dartmoor. Kyle Warras as Sir Henry also was on in every scene and lent great energy to the production, although his tendency to occasionally ad-lib tended to put other actors a bit off-stride. On the other hand, without Holmes, there is no show, so I didn't feel too guilty taking the last bow.
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